WASHINGTON - Russian ministers today approved ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming leaving the United States isolated in its continued inaction on the problem, according to World Wildlife Fund.
"With today's ministerial action, Russia began the final countdown towards ratification of the global climate treaty," said Alexey Kokorin, head of WWF's Climate Change Program in Russia.
Russian ministers approved ratification of the Kyoto Protocol earlier today at a meeting in Moscow. Ratification documents will now be sent to President Vladimir Putin who will then forward them to the Parliament's lower house, the Duma. Within 90 days of the Duma endorsing the Protocol, the climate treaty will come into force.
"As Russia joins the world's fight against global warming, it throws the question squarely to us here in the United States - the biggest carbon emitter - will we continue to sit on the sidelines or act responsibly to prevent further environmental damage," said Brooks Yeager, vice president of Global Threats, World Wildlife Fund.
At today's meeting, three key ministries -- Economic Development and Trade, Foreign Affairs and Natural Resources -- were also told to start negotiations with potential investors within the next few months. They will also begin discussions on practical co-operation with other countries that have ratified Kyoto.
The Ministries for Natural Resources, Energy, and Industry as well as the statistics and weather forecast agencies will start drawing up an inventory of heat-trapping gas emissions in Russia.
The Kyoto Protocol depends on Russia to come into force. Under the terms of the treaty, developed nations emitting more than 55 percent of heat-trapping gases must ratify the Kyoto Protocol for it to come into force. Since the United States pulled out in 2001, Russia has been left with the casting vote.
The pact allows over-polluting nations to buy excess emissions from under-polluters and provides mechanisms to attract investment to inefficient industries.
The treaty has been ratified by more than 120 countries including Japan and European Union member states.